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Some faint endeavours were made to shake off the yoke. Encouraged by France, they summoned the Turks to their aid and cut to pieces several detachments of the Russians. They proclaimed Poniatowski deposed, and called on the people to aid them to drive out the invaders. But the people, long used to oppression from their own lords, did not answer to the call. In France, Choiseul had been hurled from power, and France left the Poles to their fate. It was now that Frederick of Prussia proposed to Austria to combine with Russia and share Poland between them. At this robber proposition, so in character with Frederick, who had all his life been creating a kingdom by plundering his neighbours, Maria Theresa at first exclaimed in horror. But she was now old and failing, and she gave way, declaring that, long after she was dead and gone, people would see what would happen from their having broken through everything which had, till then, been deemed just and holy. Frederick of Prussia took the surest way to compel the Austrians to come in for a share of the spoils of Poland. He marched a body of soldiers out of Silesia—the territory which he had rent from Austria—into Posen, and Austria, not to be behind, had marched another army into the Carpathian Mountains.

Whilst the fate of Louis XVI. was drawing to a crisis, the question of danger menaced by the French revolution had been warmly discussed in the British Parliament. The Government had already called out the militia when Parliament met on the 13th of December, 1792. The speech from the throne attributed this to the attempts of French incendiaries to create disturbance in the country, coupled with the doctrines of aggression promulgated by the French Convention, and their invasion of Germany and the Netherlands, which had already taken place. The latter country was overrun with French armies, and Holland, our ally, was threatened. The Address to the Speech, in the Commons, was moved by Mr. Wallace and seconded by Lord Fielding in the same tone. Fox, on the other hand, strongly opposed the warlike spirit of the speech. He declared that he believed every statement in the royal speech was unfounded, though the invasion of Germany and of the Netherlands was no myth. Fox had not yet, despite the horrors perpetrated by the French revolutionists, given up his professed persuasion of the good intentions of that people—a wonderful blindness—and he recommended that we should send a fresh ambassador to treat with the French executive. Grey and Sheridan argued on the same side; Windham and Dundas defended the measures of Government, declaring that not only had the French forced open the navigation of the Scheldt, the protection of which was guaranteed by Britain, but that they were preparing for the regular subjugation of Holland. Burke declared that the counsels of Fox would be the ruin of England, if they could possibly prevail. He remarked that nothing was so notorious as the fact that swarms of Jacobin propagandists were actively engaged in disseminating their levelling principles in Great Britain, and were in close co-operation with Republican factions. These factions had sent over deputations to Paris, who had been received by the Jacobin society and by the Convention. He read the addresses of Englishmen and Irishmen resident in Paris, and of Joel Barlow and John Frost, deputies of the Constitutional Society of London. Burke said the question was, if they permitted the fraternising of these parties with the French Jacobins, not whether they should address the throne, but whether they should long have a throne to address, for the French Government had declared war against all kings and all thrones. Erskine replied, ridiculing the fears of Burke, and denouncing the prosecution of Paine's "Rights of Man" by Government. The Address was carried by a large majority. Fox, however, on the 14th of December, moved an amendment on the Report; and in his speech he rejoiced in the triumph of the French arms over what he called the coalition of despots, Prussia and Austria. He declared the people of Flanders had received the French with open arms; that Ireland was too disaffected for us to think of going to war; and that it was useless to attempt to defend the Dutch, for the people there would go over to France too. He again pressed on the House the necessity of our acknowledging the present French Government, and entering into alliance with it. He said France had readily acknowledged the Revolution in England, and entered into treaty with[411] Cromwell. Burke again replied to Fox, declaring that France had no real Government at all to enter into terms with. It was in a condition of anarchy, one party being in the ascendency one day, another the next; that such was not the condition of England under Cromwell. There was a decided and settled Republican Government, but a Government which did not menace or overthrow all monarchies around it, any more than Switzerland or the United States of America did now. Dundas reminded the House that we were bound by treaties to defend Holland if attacked, and that we must be prepared for it. Whigs, who had hitherto voted with Fox, now demanded to whom we were to send an ambassador—to the imprisoned king, to the Convention, or to the clubs who ruled the Convention? Fox's amendment was rejected without a division.After the Painting by BIRKET FOSTER, R.W.S.

Before there was any declaration of war, the King of France, on the 18th of March, issued an[255] order to seize all British ships in the ports of that kingdom; and, nine days afterwards, a similar order was issued by the British Government as to all French ships in their harbours. The first act of hostility was perpetrated by Admiral Keppel. He had been appointed first Admiral on the earliest news of the treaty of France with America; and, being now in the Channel with twenty ships of the line, he discovered two French frigates, La Licorne and La Belle Poule, reconnoitring his fleet. Not troubling himself that there had been no declaration of war, Keppel ordered some of his vessels to give chase; and, on coming up with the Licorne, a gun was fired over her, to call her to surrender; and the Frenchman struck his colours, but not before he had poured a broadside into the America, commanded by Lord Longford, and wounded four of his men. The "saucy" Arethusa, famed in song and story, in the meantime, had come up with the Belle Poule, and, after a desperate action, drove her in amongst the rocks, whilst the Arethusa herself was so disabled as to require towing back to the fleet. A schooner and a French frigate were soon afterwards taken; and, finding on board these vessels papers stating that the fleet in Brest harbour consisted of thirty-two sail of the line and ten or twelve frigates, Keppel returned to Portsmouth for reinforcements.In the meantime the Chartists had made their preparations. The members of the National Convention met early in the morning at its hall in John Street, Fitzroy Square, and after this the members took their places in a great car, which had been prepared to convey them to the Common. It was so large that the whole Convention and all the reporters who attended it found easy accommodation—Mr. Feargus O'Connor and Mr. Ernest Jones sitting in the front rank. It was drawn by six fine horses. Another car drawn by four horses contained the monster petition, with its enormous rolls of signatures. Banners with Chartist mottoes and devices floated over these imposing vehicles. The Convention thus driven in state passed down Holborn, over Blackfriars Bridge, and on to the Common, attended by 1,700 Chartists, marching in procession. This was only one detachment; others had started from Finsbury Square, Russell Square, Clerkenwell Green, and Whitechapel. The largest body had mustered in the East, and passed over London Bridge, numbering about 6,000. They all arrived at the Common about ten o'clock, where considerable numbers had previously assembled; so the Common appeared covered with human beings. In all monster meetings there are the widest possible differences in the estimates of the numbers. In this case they were set down variously at 15,000, 20,000, 50,000, and even 150,000. Perhaps 30,000 was the real number present.

Insecurity of the Orleanist Monarchy—the Spanish Marriages—lord Palmerston's Foreign Policy—meeting of the French Chambers—prohibition of the Reform Banquet—the Multitude in Arms—Vacillation of Louis Philippe—He Abdicates in favour of His Grandson—Flight of the Royal Family—Proclamation of the Provisional Government—Lamartine quells the Populace—The Unemployed—Invasion of the Assembly—Prince Louis Napoleon—The Ateliers Nationaux—Paris in a State of Siege—The Rebellion quelled by Cavaignac—A New Constitution—Louis Napoleon Elected President of the French Republic—Effect of the French Revolution in England—The Chartists—Outbreak at Glasgow—The Monster Petition—Notice by the Police Commissioners—The 10th of April—The Special Constables—The Duke of Wellington's Preparations—The Convention on Kennington Common—Feargus O'Connor and Commissioner Mayne—Collapse of the Demonstration—Incendiary Placards at Glasgow—History of the Chartist Petition—Renewed Gatherings of Chartists—Arrests—Trial of the Chartist Leaders—Evidence of Spies—The Sentences.Yet the whole demand for sailors was carried, and the demand of inquiry as absolutely rejected. Parliament went on and voted three million two hundred and five thousand five hundred and five pounds for the expenses of the navy; four thousand pounds for Greenwich Hospital; five hundred thousand pounds for the discharge of the debts of the navy. For the army, including some new contracts with the German princes for men to serve in America, three million pounds. What was still more disgraceful was that, amid all these charges on the public purse, the king came again with a fresh demand for six hundred thousand pounds for debts on the Civil List. It was pretended that extraordinary calls had been made on the royal purse by the suffering Royalists in America; but it was notorious that the Royal household continued in the same condition of reckless waste and extravagance as it was when the former half million was voted for the same purpose. Yet the Commons granted this sum; and, by way of preventing the king from falling into fresh difficulties, added one hundred thousand pounds a year to the Civil List. The matter, however, did not pass without a plain reminder to his Majesty. The rough-spoken Sir Fletcher Norton, the Speaker of the Commons, when presenting this Bill for the increase of the Civil List to the king, said:—"Sir,—In a time of public distress, full of difficulty and danger, under burdens almost too heavy to be borne, your faithful Commons postponed all other business, and granted your Majesty not only a large present supply, but a very great additional revenue—great beyond example—great beyond your Majesty's highest wants!" Having passed these votes, Parliament was prorogued on the 13th of December till the 21st of the following January.

It is only too true, however, that many of the Hampden Clubs entertained very seditious ideas, and designs of seizing on the property of the leading individuals of their respective vicinities. Still more questionable were the doctrines of the Spenceans, or Spencean Philanthropists, a society of whom was established in London this year, and whose chief leaders were Spence, a Yorkshire schoolmaster, one Preston, a workman, Watson the elder, a surgeon, Watson the younger, his son, and Castles, who afterwards turned informer against them. Mr. "Orator" Hunt patronised them. They sought a common property in all land, and the destruction of all machinery. These people, with Hunt and Watson at their head, on the 2nd of December, met in Spa Fields. The Spenceans had arms concealed in a waggon, and a flag displayed declaring that the soldiers were their friends. The crowd was immense, and soon there was a cry to go and summon the Tower. Mr. Hunt and his party appear to have excused themselves from taking part in this mad movement. The mob reached the Tower, and a man, supposed to be Preston, summoned the sentinels to surrender, at which they only laughed. The mob then followed young Watson into the City, and ransacked the shop of Mr. Beckwith, a gunsmith, on Snow Hill, of its firearms. A gentleman in the shop remonstrated, and young Watson[122] fired at him and severely wounded him. Young Watson then made his escape, but his father was secured and imprisoned; and the Lord Mayor and Sir James Shaw dispersed the mob on Cornhill, and took one of their flags and several prisoners. Watson the elder was afterwards tried and acquitted; but a sailor who was concerned in the plunder of the gunsmith's shop was hanged. A week after this riot the Corporation of London presented an Address to the Throne, setting forth the urgent necessity for Parliamentary reform.

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During these transactions the activity of the Pretender and his agents was encouraged by the growing influence of Bolingbroke in the English Court. Bolingbroke proposed to Oxford that they should pay the dowry of the Pretender's mother, the widow of James II.; but to this Oxford objected, saying that the widow of James had not contented herself with the title of queen-dowager of England, but had assumed that of queen mother, which, he observed, could not be lawfully admitted after the attainder of her son. This strengthened the hands of Bolingbroke with Lady Masham, who was violently in favour of the Pretender. Lady Masham's disgust with Oxford was wonderfully increased. In writing to Mesnager, she did not hesitate to say that if the Court of St. Germains trusted to Oxford, they would be deceived; that he was "famous for loving a secret, and making intricacies where there needed none, and no less renowned for causing everything of such a nature to miscarry." The Pretender, having every day increased encouragement from Lady Masham and Bolingbroke, demanded of the Emperor of Germany one of his nieces in marriage; and it was reported that the Emperor was agreeable to it, and ready to espouse his cause. It was well known that distinct propositions had been made to the Pretender through the Duke of Berwick, at the instance of Lady Masham, before her breach with Oxford, by which his restoration on the demise of Anne was agreed to on condition that he should guarantee the security of the Church and Constitution of England, and that not even his mother should be admitted to the knowledge of this agreement. At the last point, however, Oxford failed to conclude this secret treaty. The Duke of Berwick, in his Memoirs, says that, in consequence of this conduct of Oxford's, the friends of the Pretender turned their attention to other parties about the Court—to Lord Ormonde, the Duke of Buckingham, and many other persons. Buckingham—who was married to the Lady Catherine Darnley, a daughter of James II. by Catherine Sedley, and was, therefore, brother-in-law to the Pretender—wrote to the Earl of Middleton, the Pretender's Minister, how earnestly he desired to see the king back on the English throne; that nothing but his religion stood in the way; that this was the only thing which prevented the queen from acknowledging him; and he urged him to follow the example of Henry IV. of France, who gave up the Protestant religion when he saw that he could not securely hold the Crown without doing so. But the Pretender was, much to his credit—being firmly persuaded of the truth of his religion—much too honest to renounce it, even for the Crown of such a kingdom as Great Britain; and he argued that the English people ought to see in his sincerity a guarantee for his faithful dealing with them in all other matters. But, unfortunately, the example of his father had barred the way to any such plea. No man was more positive in the adherence to his religion, or in his sacrifices on its account; but no man had at the same time so thoroughly demonstrated that he had no such honourable feeling as to breaking his word where any political matter was concerned.As for Wilkes, he counselled them earnestly to introduce a paragraph into their Address to the king, stating their conviction that the chief discontents of the nation arose from the violation of the rights of representation in his expulsion from the Commons. "I am," said the eloquent earl, "neither moved by his private vices nor by his public merits. In his person, though he were the worst of men, I contend for the safety and security of the best; and God forbid that there should be a power in this country of measuring the civil rights of the subject by his moral character, or by any other rule than the fixed laws of the land."On the 17th of March, a few nights after Mr. Cobden's motion, Mr. Miles brought forward a motion for relief to the agricultural interest in the reduction or remission of taxation. He complained that there had been an importation of wheat during the last thirty-two months seven or eight times greater in amount than in the thirty-six months immediately subsequent to the introduction of the Corn Law of 1828. The abundance of meat in Leadenhall, Smithfield, and Newgate Markets, through the importation of foreign cattle, was also made a subject of reproach against the Ministry, and he told the House, as the spokesman of the agricultural party, "that they had no confidence in the measures which the Government proposed." They thought that anything would be better than their present position. They saw that the tariff which was passed three years ago was now going to be revised again, and that the shield of protection which was thrown over some of the productions of their industry was about to be removed still farther from them. In such circumstances they could not refrain from asking themselves what there was to prevent the Corn Laws from going next? Mr. Disraeli then, in a strain of sarcasm which is stated to have elicited cheers and laughter from the House, assailed the consistency of the Premier, and the tone in which he rebuked the mutinous and rebellious members of his party. He believed, he said, Protection to be in the same condition now as Protestantism had been in 1828, and he, who honoured genius, would rather see the abolition of all Protection proposed by Mr. Cobden than by any right honourable gentleman or by any noble lord on either side of the House. It might be necessary, before such an abolition was accomplished, for the Premier to dissolve the Parliament for the benefit of the party which he had betrayed, and to appeal to the country, which universally mistrusted him. His solemn and deliberate conviction was that a Conservative Government was an organised hypocrisy.

Nor did these terms contain anything like the extent of tyranny imposed on the conscience of the nation by these monarchs. By the 29 Elizabeth it was provided that what right or property any person might dispose of, or settle on any of his[162] family, should still be liable to these penalties if the proprietor and disposer of them neglected to go to church. So that a son might be deprived of lands or other property settled upon him at his marriage, or at any other time, if his father ceased to attend church, though he himself went punctually; and by the 21 James I. the informers were stimulated by great rewards to lay complaints against all whom they could discover offending. And, moreover, any person was to be considered an absentee from church, and liable to all the penalties, who did not remain in church during the whole time of the service; and, also, not only on Sundays, "but upon all the other days ordained and used to be kept as holidays." All these odious enactments were left in force by the Toleration Act, except that they did not compel every one to go to church, but to some licensed place of worship.

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In the debate on this subject, George Canning, who on many occasions had shown himself capable of better things, breathed the very language of Toryism. He declared the representation of Parliament perfect, and treated the most moderate proposals for Reform as only emanations from the mad theories of the Spenceans. The message of the Prince Regent came down on the 3rd of February, ordering certain papers to be laid before the House, "concerning certain practices, meetings, and combinations in the metropolis, and in different parts of the kingdom, evidently calculated to endanger the public tranquillity, to alienate the affections of his Majesty's subjects from his Majesty's person and Government, and to bring into hatred and contempt the whole system of our laws and institutions." Lord Sidmouth endeavoured to guard the House of Peers against the belief that the insult to the Regent had any share in the origination of this message, but the House of Lords, in its Address, directly charged this event as an additional proof of the public disaffection. Unfortunately, the Regent had two Houses of Parliament only too much disposed to make themselves the instruments of such vengeance. The message was referred to a secret committee in each House, and on the 18th and 19th of February they respectively made their reports. Both went at great length into the affair of the Spa Fields meeting, and the proceedings and designs of the Spenceans were made to represent the designs of the working classes all over the kingdom; that such men as Thistlewood, who not long after suffered for his justly odious conduct, were conspicuous among the Spenceans, and that there had been an affray in Spa Fields, were circumstances to give ample colouring to the reports of these committees. The Lords' report stated—"It appears clear that the object is, by means of societies, or clubs, established, or to be established, in all parts of Great Britain, under pretence of Parliamentary reform, to infect the minds of all classes of the community, and particularly of those whose[124] situation most exposes them to such impressions, with a spirit of discontent and disaffection, of insubordination, and contempt of all law, religion, and morality; and to hold out to them the plunder of all property as the main object of their efforts, and the restoration of their natural rights; and no endeavours are omitted to prepare them to take up arms, on the first signal, for accomplishing their designs."The question of the Prince's income was not so easily disposed of. On the 24th of January, Lord John Russell, having moved that the paragraph relating to the subject should be read, quoted, as precedents for the grant he was about to propose, the instances of Prince George of Denmark, Prince Leopold, and Queen Adelaide. As far as he could judge by precedent in these matters, £50,000 a year was the sum generally allotted to princes in the situation of the Prince Consort to the Queen of England. He therefore moved—"That her Majesty be enabled to grant an annual sum not exceeding £50,000 out of the Consolidated Fund, as a provision to Prince Albert, to commence on the day of his marriage with her Majesty, and to continue during his life." The debate having been adjourned for a few days, Mr. Hume moved, as an amendment, that only £21,000 should be granted. Colonel Sibthorpe moved that £30,000 be the sum allowed. Mr. Goulburn was in favour of that sum. The amendment proposed by Mr. Hume was lost by a majority of 305 against 38. When Colonel Sibthorpe's amendment became the subject of debate, Lord John Russell, alluding to professions of respect made by Lord Elliot for her Majesty, and of care for her comfort, said: "I cannot forget that no Sovereign of this country has been insulted in such a manner as her present Majesty has been." Lord Elliot and Sir James Graham rose immediately to protest against this insinuation, as in all respects most uncalled-for and unjustifiable. The House then divided on the amendment, which was carried by a very large majority, the numbers being—ayes, 262; noes, 158: majority for the sum of £30,000, 104. Such a signal defeat of the Government, on a question in which the Sovereign naturally felt a deep interest, was calculated to produce a profound impression upon the country, and in ordinary circumstances would have led to a change of Ministry; but it was regarded as the result of an accidental combination between heterogeneous materials, and therefore Lord Melbourne did not feel called upon to resign. However, the decisions caused, says Sir Theodore Martin, considerable pain and vexation to the Queen.

Yet, looking at Spain from a mere momentary point of view, its condition was sad enough. Saragossa had undergone a second siege, in which the inhabitants had again made a brilliant stand, and caused the French much loss and suffering, though compelled at length to surrender. The battle of Oca?a, in November of 1809, had been lost by Areizaga, and left Spain without a single considerable army. During the latter part of the same year, General Reding, the patriotic Swiss general, had been defeated at Valls. Blake had sustained two heavy defeats near Saragossa and Belchite, with the loss of the greater part of his artillery and men. Gerona had withstood a desperate siege, but was compelled to capitulate on the 10th of December. Tarragona and Tortosa had suffered the same fate. In some of these towns the Spaniards had not yielded till they had killed and eaten their horses and mules.

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